Saturday, April 26, 2008
The hub of Evil
Clint Murchison [above] was an oil millionaire whose wealth was made in the wildcat oil business, nurtured and preserved by the Oil Depletion Allowance. He owned about 500 different companies and controlled just about everything and anything in Texas. He extended his influence to Washington DC and other powerful venues through a very special hotel that he ran -- the El Charro Hotel -- in La Jolla, California.
As you probably guessed, the Del Charro was no ordinary hotel. In the 1950's the room rate officially started at $150 per night. Murchison, a multi-millionaire, certainly didn't run it to make a profit. No. If you stayed at the Del Charro your food and lodging were usually pro bono.
The frequent guests were all power figures like J. Edgar Hoover (Director of the FBI), Carlos Mossello (New Orleans Mafia head), Richard Nixon (who lost the 1960 presidential election to Kennedy), Bobby Baker (Johnson's right hand man and secretary of the US Senate) and a wealthy man named D.H. Byrd (the owner of the Texas Book Depository).
With a partner named Sid Richardson, Murchison also owned the Del Mar Race Track. Since Hoover was fond of gambling, Murchison set him up with a box seat at the finish line. He also let Hoover invest in his oil ventures and would give him his money back if a well didn't strike oil.
The Del Charro was quid pro quo and provided a social atmosphere where organized crime, the FBI chief, big oil money and political power could mingle.
Behind the scenes there was an "understanding." The mob had obtained photographs of J. Edgar Hoover engaging in oral sex with his male partner, Clyde Tolson. Mafia boss, Mossello, "controlled" these photographs and blackmailed Hoover into avoiding any action against the "mob." In fact, until the early 1960's, the FBI had no formal training or divisions that addressed organized crime. From the top down it was known that this was "hands off."
All of this was about to change in the fateful year of 1963. JFK's brother and now Attorney General Robert Kennedy, as Hoover's new boss, had declared war on the mob. This put Hoover in an extremely anxious predicament. Gradually, organized crime, Hoover and big oil were becoming frustrated with JFK. Nixon also had his axe to grind, having been defeated by Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.
Kennedy not only talked about change -- he made it happen. The Oil Depletion Allowance was to be slashed, organized crime had begun to be prosecuted by a zealous Justice Department, even the CIA was upset with Kennedy.
Kennedy had made it clear that the CIA was to gather intelligence, as described in their charter, but were not to propose or promote policies. He was so angry with their performance in Vietnam and Cuba that he openly talked about dissolving the organization.
"If the United States ever experiences an attempt at a coup to overthrow the government, it will come from the CIA. The agency represents a tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone."
Yes, a storm was brewing. Guests of the Del Charro were ready to do something. Then, one evening just before Kennedy was invited to Dallas, they did it.